For three months after the accident, her then three-year-old son Zach, who had gone everywhere with his mother, would not come near her. He thought she was still hot. Her lips had been charred and he was frightened. "That's not Mommy," he would say. The heartache didn't end there.
"Just when things were getting somewhat normal, in August 1992, I became pregnant," Gerring says. "It seemed like the first good thing I had to look forward to, and I lost the baby. Then I miscarried a second time. They think my hormones went haywire over the trauma to my body." The third time was the charm. Last September she gave birth to a son, Jayme.
Before the accident, Gerring's life was as perfect as a meticulously manicured green. "I had everything," she says. "I had golf, a great career. I was doing something I loved to do, and I was getting paid to do it. I had a great little boy and a wonderful husband who supported me to the hilt. Golf is not on the same level with my son or husband, but golf was my whole...." Her words come out in short spurts, in intervals of anguish. "It was what I was about, it's what made everything else that much better."
When Gerring talks about her tournament victories, she talks about her family. "To have Jim caddie for me at the World Championship in Paris was a fantasy come true," she says, recalling her victory at that tournament in 1990. Then she describes the scene at the Stratton Mountain LPGA Classic when two-year-old Zach toddled onto the 18th green to celebrate her win. "That's my ultimate," she says.
Now a typical day in Gerring's life is full of the wonderful chaos that being the mother of two young children brings. On one recent afternoon Jayme is laughing and smiling as usual, looking irresistibly cute, while six-year-old Zach prepares for his first Little League practice of the season. Zach is nervous because he will be one of the youngest kids on the team. "Mom, I don't want to go," he says. His mother, who played senior Little League in Indiana, reassures her son that he won't be facing any curveballs at practice.
Gerring describes herself as a big sports fan, but that is an understatement. She bought a satellite dish so she can watch 10 NFL games a weekend, and she sees or listens to just about every Indiana University basketball game. When she speaks about something she is passionate about, like the Atlanta Braves or Bobby Knight, her royal-blue eyes become wider and her short blond hair seems to stand on end.
But as big a sports junkie as she is, she cannot bring herself to watch the very sport she played. She reads tournament results only to see how her friends played. She longs to walk with them from the locker room to the practice tee to the 1st hole to the leader board.
"There's something missing in her life," says Jim. "Something that will satisfy her competitiveness."
"It's so hard to explain," she says, as a sadness creeps into her voice. "You'd hate for people to think that you're so shallow that a sport would mean that much to you. But I am the daughter of a golf pro, my brother [Bill Kratzert] plays on the PGA Tour, my husband is a golf pro, his brother is a golf pro, his dad was a golf pro. I was a pro shop brat as a kid.
"Billy played in the Masters in 1974 as an amateur, and my parents took me to watch him. I was 12 years old, and after that, all I wanted to do was play golf. I had figured out that I wouldn't be the first female major leaguer, and golf was something I could do for the rest of my life."